Ugandan teacher mentors evicted over unpaid rent
REB has not paid them for three months
Several Ugandan language mentors hired by the government to coach Rwandan teachers how to use English as a language of instruction have been evicted from their houses after failing to pay their monthly rent.
The Rwanda Focus has learned that teachers’ mentors have gone without pay for the last two months forcing and as a result the mentors piled up debts with the local shops and land lords, who have now run out of patience.
But the mentors, who came over from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, have no money, nor friends or relatives in the rural areas where they were posted earlier this year and have been struggling to survive.
Dan Kunihira, 26, is one of them. Before he was recruited as a language mentor, Kunihira was gainfully employed at the a private primary school in Kigali but opted to serve as a government worker in the teacher language mentoring program initiated by the Rwanda Education board (REB).
“I was thrown out by my landlord and couldn’t get food anymore as all the shop owners had stopped giving me more credit because I already owed them Frw 60,0000,” Kunihira complained.
According to the mentor, REB assigned them to school head teachers who are to be their immediate supervisors and guides, but Kunihira says his head teacher had no time for him. “It’s only the secretary who helped me but he too had limitations. At school, teachers pay 4000 francs per month to organize meals but I had been since suspended from the school meals because I was not contributing,” he explained.
Kunihira is not alone. A Tanzanian mentor who would only identify himself as Israel has also returned to Tanzania saying that he was not ready to starve in a foreign land. “The local people had really done their best to help me but naturally I was not happy burdening people who I guess have their own challenges. Since my employers couldn’t pay me, I had to leave,” said Israel, adding that he too is ready to return if he gets paid.
Others, like Titus from Kenya who was posted at GS. Kabare in Kibungo, have had to find additional jobs to get by – he himself manages to get some earnings from part time work in the village teaching kids English. “It’s definitely hard life and we are surviving by Gods grace,” said Titus, who is charged to mentor 31 teachers at the school with both primary and secondary sections.
Angela in Rulindo, with 27 teachers to mentor, for her part has marking exams from schools in Kigali, but it has not been enough to pay the rent for the last two months.
“I am lucky my landlord has been patient with me but how long can it go on? We only hope REB pays our salaries soon,” she said, adding she has accumulated debts worth 70,000 francs.
According to another mentor, identified only as Sylvia posted in Ruhengeri, the affected people were recruited alongside Rwandans in February this year and they signed a one-year contract which promised a Frw 150,000 monthly salary.
However, the first salary was given to them in April, two months after signing the contract. Then in May, they were told they signed a wrong contract and should sign new ones, this time for two years and with a salary of Frw 170,000. “But since then, we have not been paid and no one has given us an explanation,” says Sylvia.
For the Rwandan mentors it has been easier to wait since they have families and friends to fall back on, but the foreigners are now becoming desperate.
When The Rwanda Focus contacted John Rutayisire, REB’s director general, last week, he said he was in a management meeting in which the issue would be addressed, and promised to get back to us with a conclusive answer. He hadn’t done so by press time.
However, an insider revealed that REB is struggling to re-arrange the payroll for both the local and foreign mentors (the latter arrived in the country last Month), which is required for them to effect the payments. He added that the transition to the 2012/13 budget had also made it hard to get the mentors’ salaries paid.
REB might consider hiring mentors to help them establish a payroll.